Wednesday, May 4, 2011


It seems like I’ve got more than enough material for an entry, but there’s not exactly enough time to get it down. I want to post some musings about quality over quantity, courage through injuries, diet adjustments, true vs. perceived effort, and a lot of other thoughts that have been popping up in my head, but I don’t know if I can blog it all in a coherent fashion.. So here goes some endorphin fueled ramble:

The last couple weeks have been somewhat low mileage for me, but they have also included higher quality miles than average for me. The natural periodization of my training seemed to wear out my knee a couple weeks ago and make me stop and think about what I really need to be able to do for Miwok and how that race applies to my AC build-up.

It actually isn’t totally random training, and the theme that’s perpetuated for the past weeks is some high quality climbs. Any challenging climb can cause a runner to have to shuffle step and walk. It just has to be long enough, steep enough, or mentally taxing enough. The last point is what actually a big part of what makes hill running special.

-Badden Powell awaiting runners at mile 13.8 (photo taken from mile 8 on the AC course)

For example, let’s take a staple climb like Badden Powell: 6500ft to 9000ft in 4.1 miles (average of 609ft/mile, 11.5% grade). Put a runner in other environments with similar numbers: a treadmill at sea level, a fireroad at 1,000ft, or at 11,000ft above the treeline. Though it is completely fair to say that these are all very different versions of the same, and that the degree of difficulty goes up greatly at altitude, they still are the same "climb": 2500ft in 4.1 miles is 2500ft in 4.1 miles.

The mindset one can have on a treadmill or fireroad at sea level can be aggressive and competitive, or at the very least, confident with enough training. The first time one learns to run a hill, this process is virgin and true. The pain and muscular defficiencies are gradually overcome and accomodated allowing confidence to build up the experience and muscles needed to allow the body to perform well for the full climb. Now take that "experienced" sea level runner to 7,000ft and his/her uncalibrated muscles and lungs burn out quickly at the shock of a significant lack of oxygen. The process will be the same, they’ll have to experiment and see what they’re capable of and learn new pacing, adjust the stride, and all the like. The difference though between the great climbers and the not so great climbers is the willingness to embrace this challenge time and time again beyond that first experience.

-PCT at 7,000ft out of Islip Saddle, Mexico bound.

It is a very heavy feeling of uncertainty and insecurity failing after so recently accomplishing something special, but believing in one's ability to adapt lightens this load. Remembering the first experience of learning to run a steep hill at sea level, and the discovery of confidence is what allows the mastery at altitude to occur. This analogy though doesn’t just apply to altitude but also distance. If you can learn to adapt to minimize "hitting the wall" in a single marathon, you can learn to avoid the countless potential bonks that can happen in a 100 mile race.

When a GPS watch or a race map plan tells you that you’ve just climbed 10,000ft on the day, the body begins to plead with the mind for some pity for all that it has accomplished so far. However, just as passing 6,000ft was harder than passing 5,000ft on the day, the same determination to one’s ability to overcome current and future challenges is what allows the mind to stay aggressive and give the body a chance to perform.

So, that’s what I’m focusing on, and blindly and passionately believing in as I go into Miwok, and push through into the big high altitude mileage in my final run-up to AC.

(pause for dramatic effect)

Here’s the weeks:

4/18 Monday: 9mi, 1,000ft, 1:26 Crystal Cove easy

Tues: 10mi, 3700ft, 1:31 Treadmill workout 7mi, 9:50, 10% then 3mi, 7:20, 2%

Wed: 8mi, 1400ft, 1:18 Ridge Park, Valley

Thurs: 1mi, 5:10 on the treadmill AM
11mi, 1700ft, 1:42 Ridgepark, valley, Stairway trail in minimus.. Sore feet!

Fri: 5mi, 1000ft, :42 roads AM

Sat: 18mi, 3,000ft, 2:28 Sycamore Cyn 30k, late invite but showed up to race the 50k. Started off sore, worked pretty hard chasing Evan Hone, and as I caught up on the
3rd hill, the knee went out again, so I called it a day. Easily could've ran CR at that point, but the super agressive downhills I was running was making the knee ache a lot.

Sun: 16mi, 2600ft, 2:59 eagles roost, road, down southfork trail from islip saddle and back
5mi, 800ft, :40 shakeout around Brentwood hill(s)

83mi, 14,400ft

4/25: Monday 7mi, 1000ft, 62 Crystal cove

Tues: 5mi, 1000ft, :49 Crystal Cove
7mi, 1200ft, :65 Crystal Cove

Wed: 3mi 500ft, :29, 1mi at 7:00, 1mi at 11% at 8:30, 800m at 7:00 0%, 800m at 6:00
4mi, 0ft, :29 run club

Thurs: 10mi, 2400ft, 1:34 Temescal 2 loops

Fri: 19, 1000ft, 2:21 relaxed roads

Sat: 12mi, 600ft, leona aid station work

Sun: 10mi, 2500ft, eagles roost, islip, mt. williamson

77mi, 11,300ft

The wild and passionate TuNe YArDs.


Chris Price said...

It was awesome seeing you at Leona, thanks for all the encouragement, I needed it.

How much are you going to run this week, tapering St all for Miwok?

Dominic Grossman said...

Great job at Leona! More experience running fast=even better races ahead.

Basically, my legs get twitchy and tight when I don't run. So, this week, my runs are the minimum to get them feeling normal each day, and then stopping.. Which is about 5-7 miles give or take. The hay's already in the barn, so this is just a holding pattern more or less.

Hone said...

You never caught me on that 3rd climb! We will both have to show up to that race next year and duke it out to see how low we can get that CR down. The guy that currently owns the record sucks!

Also it was good to see you this weekend. Have fun at Miwok and run hard.

Chris Price said...

Dom: good luck hauling yer hay at Miwok.

Hone: you're right, the sycamore 50k CR is super soft... Oh snap son! That's coming from a kook who's never run it of course.

Dominic Grossman said...

Yeah that dudes a chode ;) we'll take it down

Miwok is gonna be exciting.. I have not run over 20 miles in a month but feel strangely good.. Curiosity and excitement abound!